All Lives Matter?
Friday, August 28. Afternoon.
I’m sitting at my desk, deftly switching between my emails and the program that allows me to send and receive text messages on behalf of a political party I want to aid to win the 2020 election.
I look at the clock. I have only five minutes before I have to start mobilizing my troops here in NE Portland to take part in the NAACP March on Portland. If I rush, I can get through five emails and send at least as many texts.
Kathy comes to mind; she was a woo-woo business consultant with whom I was once on a conference staff. The twinkle in her eye. Her flowy pants and bouncy vocalization: “Don’t think of it as just five minutes, think of it as a spacious five minutes.”
I always remember my desire to punch her in the throat.
I laugh to myself—which I do every time—because she was right. The switch of perspective of the fixed amount of time, from an attitude of scarcity to one of abundance, changes everything.
Today, it happens. Spaciousness opens up. My mind clears. My breathing opens. My keystrokes and clicks are slow and beautiful like a symphony.
I open an email:
Brian, may I ask you your opinion of Black Lives Matter? Thank you. -S.
Does air matter?
Seems like you know the answer to both questions.
Please elaborate as I would like to know why you are asking.
Time to leave for the march, and I do.
I gather the family, masks, signs, and the feeling we are on the right side of history, and we march.
Saturday, August 29. Morning.
What follows is a continuation of our email thread.
I ask because Rabbi Name Withheld tore into me regarding BLM, saying they are an anti-semitic organization and are against Israel.
I so appreciate even your three-word response!
Of course I believe it stands for human rights and social justice, so I am trying to mollify this particular rabbi.
Thanks for taking the time to respond,
So, BLM movement was established with some un-Jewish/un-Israel positions. Who cares? That’s not what this is about. The BLM movement changed positions. Movements do that. Oregon was founded in 1859 as a white utopia, building into the state constitution that Blacks were prohibited from living in its borders. Now Portland, a beautiful city populated mainly by white folk, is leading the national campaign fighting for Black lives. White people for the past 86+ days have been putting their lives on the line to protest police brutality. Things change. Group policies change. And BLM is allowed to do so as well.
What Black Lives Matter means now is exactly those three words.
We aren’t talking about “all lives,” “Jewish lives,” or “Blue lives.”
We are talking about Black lives.
To those who detract from the focus of these three words, I am compelled to ask, why?!
Please ask your rabbi friend to which Black-led organization they contribute time, money, and their privilege, if it isn’t BLM.
Oh, (the) God (of my understanding), Jews can annoy me!
JEWS NEED TO SUPPORT BLACK PEOPLE.
If you wonder how so many Poles, Czechs, and Germans abetted Nazis and did not help the Jews, how can you turn a blind eye to the state-sanctioned brutality? And, make no mistake, this is state-sanctioned brutality.
- According to government data, seven percent of Black drivers were ticketed, compared to 4.8 percent of white drivers. That’s nearly double. https://www.bjs.gov/content/pub/pdf/pbtss11.pdf
- And this is despite the fact that Black motorists who were searched had illegal items 22 percent of the time, as opposed to 34 percent for white drivers. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6080222/
Almost three Black people are being killed by the police for every one white person. THREE TIMES.
I cannot believe any person can stand idly by.
Black Lives Matter.
I’m sorry for ranting.
I thank you for reading, despite my somewhat snarky and angry tone.
Thank you so very, very much.
I’m not sure what I love more—your words OR your tone!
I will hold these close to my heart as they reflect my own feelings as well.
I had another thought.
When we put up signs, “We stand with Pulse” or “We stand with Pittsburgh,” no one asked, why we didn’t put up signs “We stand with the Premium 127 Bar and Grill” or “We stand with Illinois.”
If someone tells you they are raising money to fight breast cancer would you say, “Oh, so other cancers aren’t important? What about AIDS?
I think subtle, implicit racism is at place with regard to Black Lives Matter.
Which doesn’t mean those who say, “All lives matter” or “Blue lives matter” are bad people. It’s just that, as Jay Smooth talks about, they did a little racism—just like they had some broccoli in their teeth. Just something they didn’t realize and we can lovingly point it out.
I thank you for being the recipient of this, my somewhat irate thinkings on this important issue.
Oh, Brian, you have shared the most meaningful and comforting exchanges I have had in days.
This is a huge issue, and I’ll confess, while I do most certainly believe Black Lives matter, I was more than ignorant of all the negativity and implicit racism that got bundled into that statement.
You have helped me greatly, and it is I who should be thanking you.
Rabbi Brian Zachary Mayer resides in Portland, Oregon. He is the founder and head of Religion-Outside-The-Box rotb.org, an internet-based, global group of 3.2K+ digital-age seekers. ROTB produces excellent spiritual content.